Two Disney Annual Passholders are suing the Walt Disney Company over their inability to use their passes due to the park pass reservation system. The current system blocks out Annual Passholders, who have passes without block out dates, if the allotment of daily park pass reservations has reached the limit for AP guests. This has led two Florida residents to file a lawsuit according to Florida Politics.
The lawsuit filed by the pair identified them as E.K from Palm Beach, who pays in monthly installment of $68, and M.P. from Orange County who paid $633 per pass for her and her family. They feel that Disney unfairly blocks out Annual Passholders in favor of daily ticket holders that will net the company more money per day. There are often still park pass slots open for daily ticket holders, while the Annual Passholder openings are marked full, even though there is room.
In the lawsuit filing the pair accused Disney of “predatory business practices:”
“Disney’s conduct is a predatory business practice, aimed at exploiting the customers who support it the most, its annual pass holders. Disney abused a global pandemic to take advantage of its own loyal customers and increase its revenue.”
Many Annual Passholders have complained about this policy and it has led to a similar lawsuit against Disneyland. Annual Passholders agree to terms that explicitly list “block out dates” at the time of purchase. But the new reservation system is blocking out AP holders on many other dates as well. Disney sets the limits on how many reservations are available in different categories like Annual Passholders, Resort Hotel guests and daily ticket purchasers. It has seemed that more availability has been given to those with higher priced, short-term tickets. However, it could also be that there are a lot of Annual Passholders and they want to come in for big event days, openings, holidays and weekends, making it appear that the availability is less. Disney doesn’t publicly release those numbers.
Before the pandemic and the Park Pass Reservation system, guests who had Annual Passes could go to the park any time their pass was not block out, except for days when the park closed due to peak attendance numbers before they arrived. Now Disney has continued the Park Pass system after the pandemic, while increasing crowd levels, but it limits usage of the Annual Passes even though the most expensive passes were sold with no block out dates.
Of course a Disney Spokesperson disagreed with the “predatory business practices” suit stating:
“Annual Passholders continue to be some of our biggest fans and most loyal guests. We’ve been upfront with Passholders about the updates we’ve made, and we offered them the flexibility to opt-in or opt-out of the program early in the pandemic, including refunds if they desired. This lawsuit mischaracterizes the program and its history, and we will respond further in court.”
Many Annual Passholders feel that Disney is trying to willfully cut down the ability to use the expensive passes. The daily ticket costs keep increasing with the Walt Disney Company citing “demand” as the reason. Meanwhile, Annual Passes can no longer be purchased, only renewed.
It also does not help the company’s case when Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, makes comments like this:
“We want to make sure that our superfans who love to come with annual passes and use [the parks] as their personal playground — we love that. We celebrate that. But at the same time, we’ve got to make sure that there’s room in the park for the family from Denver that comes once every five years. We didn’t have a reservation system and we didn’t control the number of annual passes we distributed and frankly, the annual pass as a value was so great that people were literally coming all the time and the accessibility of the park was unlimited to them, and that family from Denver would get to the park and not be let in. That doesn’t seem like a real balanced proposition.”
But some people paid the price Disney set for an Annual Pass with no block out dates to allow them to come “all the time” with “accessibility of the park unlimited to them.”
Disney executives have indicated many times that they want the higher revenue daily ticket sales over Annual Passholders because they believe those guests spend more money in the parks and they pay higher costs for tickets. Even going as far as to call the large number of Passholders visiting Disneyland an “unfavorable attendance mix.”
The question now is, when does it become descriminatory against Annual Passholders for profits and at what point does it cross the line into being misrepresentative by Disney to say that there are no block out dates.
The courts will decide.
What do you think? Comment and let us know!
Source: Florida Politics
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